On Saturday we sorted through piles of seed packets from last year, taking stock of what we have left, trying to remember what grew well. Which variety of tomato was our favorite? Why didn’t we get many cucumbers? Did they get munched by insects or were the plants just too crowded by neighboring flowers, melons, and beans? I have a tendency to sow seeds a little too close together — squeezing in as much as possible. Sometimes I overdo it.
Jeffrey and I sat at the table together for nearly four hours: pouring over seed catalogs, making lists, dreaming. This year, like every year, I resolved to take better garden notes. Last spring I was diligent about writing down planting details. Then summer came, the vegetables grew wild, and I stopped taking notes. We do have photos, fortunately. And when I look back over photos from last summer, I see clear evidence of my favorite plants: those wily volunteers that sprout after an entire winter (or two) under the snow. The calendulas, the borage, the sunflowers, the odd pepper plant, sturdy kale, and scallions . . . I cherish these determined souls.
I love ordering seeds in winter. I love the promise of another season and the allure of a catalogue filled with potential for color, texture, and flavor. But I’m particularly intrigued by the mysterious seeds that sit outside my window right now, dormant under a frozen white blanket. What will come up, unbidden, in the spring?
When we drop into stillness with reverence and curiosity, we may be surprised at what we find. Yes, there may be wells of grief and tears that need to be shed. There may be loneliness and uncertainty, vulnerability and the fear of the unknown. But there’s also something glimmering underneath the winter snows, a seed of creativity, a moment of possibility that, when given attention, can be nurtured into something new: a poem, a story, a project, a recipe, a dance, a song, a painting. It’s not ready to blossom into the fullness of its manifestation, but the tiny beginning is here, and you can only hear it if you slow down enough to listen. — February: Listen for the Seed